By Temigunga Mahondo, Internews trainer, Iringa, Tanzania
Journalists Suzan Moshy and Martha Sambo won first and second place in the prestigious Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (EJAT) 2020 for their stories on women soccer referees and families with disabled children.
The two Internews data journalism fellows were among 59 nominees for the EJAT Awards 2020. Both were trained and mentored by Internews and Nukta Africa, a digital media company. Moshy is from Matukio Daima Online TV and Sambo is from Ushindi FM.
Focusing on the issues of women soccer referees
After the training, Moshy submitted her story for the Culture and Sports Reporting category, highlighting how few women work as referees in Tanzania’s soccer leagues.
Moshy says she didn’t expect to win. “Even though I felt I’d done a good job, I was shocked when friends congratulated me after seeing my name among the awards!”
She believes the data journalism training had a very positive impact on her work. “Before, I’d just wait for news from politicians or for government announcements. I’d complete a task, get paid, and walk away. But the training and mentorship motivated me to use my initiative and produce strong, original stories. Our audience has increased rapidly as a result.”
Highlighting discrimination against people with disabilities
Martha Sambo was also motivated by Internew’s training and mentorship to submit a story. She reported on families who were accused of witchcraft because their children were born with disabilities – such as macrocephaly, a condition where the head is larger than average, and spinal bifida, a condition where the spinal cord doesn’t form properly. In Tanzania, people with disabilities, particularly albinism, are often persecuted due to deep rooted superstitions in local culture.
“Most people were unaware of these conditions, but my story helped to open their eyes,” said Sambo. “I had submitted stories before, but they lacked vital information and were rejected by EJAT’s judges. Now, for the first time in my life, my work has been officially recognized!”
Nukta Africa’s Daniel Samson trained and mentored Moshy and Sambo. He says their success makes him happy and should encourage others. “Due to the pandemic, we trained remotely, which was new for many participants. But they still produced great stories. So, I advise other journalists to learn data journalism if they want to make a positive contribution to their country.”
Internews’ Boresha Habari project is funded by the US Agency for International Development – USAID – and implemented in partnership with FHI 360. It supports an open environment in which the media promote participation, inclusion, and accountability in Tanzania.